At first, all I could think about during Carly's cover of "Hallelujah" was how much more beautiful, understated, and significant The Voice's tribute to the Newtown shooting victims was on Monday compared to The X Factor's tonight. (It's simple: One show has heart; the other's got no soul, as I wrote yesterday.) But something -- very likely the way those white fabric swathes hanging from the rafters looked like big squirts of tubed frosting -- drew me in fast and quick to our 13-year-old alien's effort.
Did I say alien? I meant ANGEL. After four judges' comments and a triumphant "Carly's Angels!" from Mario, it's safe to say Carly has successfully transitioned from alien to angel. What better time than the finals? The chandelier-draped-in-fabric as a crown hovering over Carly's head was a nice touch. Symbolism at its finest. Truly, though, this was by far the most wow-worthy, slick, and professional performance of the night. I could do without some of the visual schmaltz, but I'd go back and listen to that again for sure. As I've said before, I get excited to hear what Carly will do differently with well-known songs -- where she'll take the notes, etc. She may be an exquisitely programmed robot, but robot can SING.
Hey, speaking of all caps: "CAN HE WIN A BETTER FUTURE FOR HIS FAMILY?" --Khloe re: Tate. Are we all clear on this by now? Tate Stevens: Family man. He has a family. Tate family. Little Family Man Tate. Kids sabotaged his career. Family Man Seeks Long-Lost Life Back. #TateStevensFamily.
Tate's cover of Chris Young's "Tomorrow" did not stand out from any of his other performances, I thought, though that might not matter. Oof, I find it so difficult to come up with things to say about him that aren't "Tate is a solid country singer who is likable." Those things are true, but my problem with Tate is that I never get the sense that he is superlative in any way. He is talented, for sure. But the show's called The X Factor and if the aim is to find someone with a profound sense of "that something special" within him, I still haven't seen it.
For their "Let It Be" cover, Fifth Harmony took turns singing while flanked by two backup choirs. There are five of them! Enough with the choirs! I don't get it. I mean, I get that gospel choirs are an essential character in The X Factor's everything-and-the-kitchen sink (or: garbage disposal) production policy. But I don't get why the choirs' presence should in any way enhance our opinion of a freaking five-strong girl group. This number would have been so much better if they'd sung on their own, harmonizing softly behind each other's solos. Why is that not an option?!
Camila's "let it be let it be" scatting was a high point if you're into blasphemy and pizzazz, which I am. L.A. Reid stirred up a delicious word soup from the ingredients Britney had laid out previously -- "You guys are really like magic happening right before our eyes" -- and then had the nerve to suggest 5H was better than the Beatles. "The Beatles are great, but….." he trailed off. At that point he should have just gone into a trance, executed every last one of his Seated Dance Moves, screamed "I STILL don't know anyone's name. I'm out, bitches!" and jogged away, out of the red planet's orbit forever. But instead he just sat there on his booster seat of cash and smiled serenely.
I'll miss L.A. Reid's authenticity most of all.
So who's going to take it tonight? If it's a singing competition: Carly. If it's a "potentially relevant pop star" competition: Fifth Harmony. But since it's a voting competition, it'll probably be Tate. I guess? What do you think?